The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds unless noted.
When lawmakers approved a new, $114 billion budget for New York state earlier this year, they added about $1 billion into general K-12 operating expenses to support the state’s 2.8 million public school students. The state will spend about $18 billion on precollegiate education during the 2007 budget year, a 7.7 percent increase over last year’s state school spending.
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The biggest financial boon came in construction. The one-year budget provided $2.6 billion for new school construction, including $1.8 billion for New York City’s public school district. The new budget also allows New York City, which educates about 1.1 million students, to borrow an additional $9.4 billion for school construction.
Much of the impetus behind the school funding increases comes from a lawsuit filed against the state by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a New York City-based group of school advocates, which says the state has failed to provide enough construction and operating money for the city’s schools. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s high court, has ruled that the state needs to pay more to repair and rebuild the city’s schools, and to devote more money—about an additional $2 billion a year—to general operating expenses, such as teacher salaries. (“Aid Award Cut in Suit Over N.Y.C,” Nov. 29, 2006).
Though school funding dominated the 2006 regular legislative session, which ended in June, lawmakers also passed a bill protecting school employees who report suspicions of financial fraud. Another bill that passed allows schools that offer parenting-skills classes to teach about the effects and prevention of shaken-baby syndrome.
A version of this article appeared in the December 20, 2006 edition of Education Week